|an easy lamb's lettuce stir-fry.|
Apologies for my long-winded post title, but you would be hard-pressed to find another vegetable suffering from a similarly severe case of identity crisis, and I wanted to cover at least some of its many interesting monikers. Here are the names we use to refer to the pleasantly placid vegetable I'm introducing today, according to Wikipedia:
Corn salad, Lewiston cornsalad, lamb's lettuce, lamb's tongue, fetticus, field salad, mâche, feldsalat, nut lettuce and rapunzel.
I bought it at a vegetable stall at the market where it was labelled as "corn salad", which had me imagining them to be young corn sprouts. But no, apparently this little vegetable used to be harvested from corn fields before the days of commercial cultivation, and that's where it got its name. I've taken a liking to the name "lamb's lettuce", though, because this was charmingly derived from its resemblance to a lamb's tongue, and also because it is purportedly a lamb's favourite food. So from here onwards I'll be referring to it as lamb's lettuce.
|lamb's lettuce, aka corn salad, lamb's tongue, fetticus, field salad, mâche, feldsalat, nut lettuce, rapunzel.|
To me, lamb's lettuce tastes like a marriage of butter lettuce and baby spinach. It's quite mild when raw, and features often in salads, but I personally think that cooking actually brings out more of the sweetness of the vegetable, even if they do shrink a lot in the heat. Lamb's lettuce cooks fast, too, so you can add it into a soup right at the end, and when stir-fried, as I have done, you shouldn't need more than 20 seconds, and perhaps even less, depending on whether you want to retain a little bit of crunch or if you prefer them completely tender.
So keep an eye out for this little vegetable next time you're at the markets. Or jostle with some lambs for a share when you're next strolling through a corn field.
chilli-garlic lamb's lettuce stir-fry
(yields one very petite side serve)
50g (2oz) lamb's lettuce
1/2 tablespoon peanut oil (or any neutral or nutty oil suitable for frying)
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 - 3 cm (1 inch) red chilli, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
a few drops sesame oil
Thoroughly wash lamb's lettuce, as dirt collects easily in its nooks and crannies. Trim off the roots, if you like - I didn't bother as they were quite tiny. Shake off as much excess water as possible, or use a salad spinner to do the job.
Heat up the oil in a frying pan or wok over a medium heat, and swirl it around. Fry garlic and chilli for about 20 seconds or until softened.
Turn the heat up and add lamb's lettuce. Stir-fry for another 20 seconds or until slightly wilted, bearing in mind that they will continue to cook from the residual warmth of the pan. Remove from heat immediately. Mix in soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve.
This stir-fry recipe can be adapted to suit other vegetables in lieu of lamb's lettuce.
To make this dish gluten-free, use a wheat-free soy sauce.
|stir-fried lamb's lettuce.|